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Collated Answers from WW interviews

How did you get your publisher?
Gillian CrossI kept writing books and sending them off to publishers. And after about five years, when I was writing my fifth book, two of the other books were accepted in the same week, by different publishers. That was a good week.
Meg PeacockeI won a few decent prizes. On the strength of that, I wrote to Harry Chambers at Peterloo Poets because I liked the way he produced things and he didn’t seem averse to publishing middle-aged poets. He told me to send a full manuscript when I had one.
Paul ReedI'd been sending out a badly written synopsis and sample chapters and I was getting nowhere. My aunt had a word with her friend Quintin Jardine the crime writer who's an old family friend. He asked to see the manuscript and after reading it thought it was brilliant. He'd just been talking to Seán Costello and Tom Johnston from Mercat Press and they were looking for a distinctive new work for their first shot at publishing fiction. Quintin showed them The One and they loved it and made me an offer.
Tara HylandWell, I got my agent through the slushpile. Basically, I did what every aspiring writer with no contacts does – got a copy of the Writers Handbook, picked a name and sent off my first three chapters with a letter and synopsis. I was lucky enough to get a call straight away from the first (and only) agent I wrote off to – I think mainly because I targeted who to approach. The agent in question, Darley Anderson, represents two of my favourite writers, Lesley Pearse and Martina Cole, and I thought the type of book I’d written would be of interest to him. Luckily, I was right!

There was still a long way to go until publication, though. I initially wrote off to Darley in March 2007. I’d written part of the book by then, but hadn’t finished it, and I was about to give up. But my husband encouraged me to at least send the first three chapters off. Getting that call from Darley, saying he loved what I’d written, encouraged me to write on. I finally submitted the full manuscript at the end of December 2007. Darley promised to read it over Christmas, but by mid-January 2008 I still hadn’t heard back from him. I finally caved in and emailed him – he said something along the lines of ‘while your book has many good qualities, it needs a lot of work,’ which I took as a polite ‘no.’ I was still picking myself up off the floor when he called me two days later, saying that his Head of Foreign Rights (Maddie Buston) had read the book and thought it was a real page-turner. He gave me a list of all the things she liked, and then what she didn’t think quite worked (e.g. one twist too many at the end, some characters needed fleshing out). But the main issue was that the book was 220,000 words – and he wouldn’t think of submitting it until it was 150,000 words (or preferably less!).

So I went away and reworked the manuscript. It took me until end of July 2008. Darley read it over a weekend, and called me to say he loved it! Unfortunately, the summer is a bad time to submit to publishers, as a lot of people are on holiday, so he wanted to wait until September to send it off. Then September came and nothing happened – he said there were a lot of manuscripts out there, so he wanted to wait until the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. Trust me – I was getting really worried! Although I had heard (and can now testify to!) that Darley is a very principled person, I wondered if he’d just gone off my book and didn’t know how to tell me! When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, and everyone was talking about the worst recession for seventy years, I was certain he would never be able to sell the manuscript. It was a horrible time.

But Darley was as good as his word. During September and early October, he began generating a buzz around my manuscript – telling editors about it, and getting a book buyer at a major retailer to read it. Luckily she loved it, so that was more ammunition. Finally, the week after the Frankfurt Book Fair, my manuscript went off to publishers. That’s when things started to get exciting! Four editors bid for the book, and it went to auction, with the publishers submitting presentations of their plans for publication. After all I’d been through, it was nice to feel “wooed”. Finally, we decided to go with Simon & Schuster in the UK and Atria in the US.

I know it probably sounds like quite a battle to get published, but I think nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. And that goes for getting published!